Sushi, originally inspired by a Chinese dish but taking root in the Asuka period of eighth century Japan, has taken the world by storm. Like many Chinese-inspired dishes before it, Ramen noodles and others, the Japanese took a concept and ran with it, turning a dish consisting only of cured fish and rice, according to PBS, and transforming it into something no more complex but far more flavorful.
According to Statistic Brain, the United States sushi industry generates over $2 billion every year. As anyone can tell you, restaurant cuisine based on foreign delights in the United States ranges anywhere from spot-on to absolutely awful. With no food is this more true, perhaps, than with sushi. If you love sushi, or you’re trying it for the first time, then here are three things you should look for when trying to find the best sushi restaurants in your area.
Sushi is About the Rice
It’s easy to think that the most essential part of a piece of sushi, and subsequently, what gives it its identity, is fish; call it a product of protein being emphasized in the top cuisines of the Western world. However, as written on Just Hungry, a well known blog focusing on Japanese food, sushi is actually defined by the rice.
Sushi rice, “sushimeshi” as it’s known in Japanese, is steamed rice that is then mixed with a sweet-sour mixture of rice vinegar, salt, and sugar. The key to good sushi restaurants is their rice. The most unique restaurants specializing in sushi will offer great rice and fresh, firm cuts of fish, omelettes, and other accouterments.
Sashimi and Sushi Are Completely Different Things
“But wait!” many scream in protest. If sushi is about the rice, then why doesn’t sashimi have any rice? According to the Japanese culture blog They Call Me An Egg, sashimi is a distinct dish. While it is often sold in unique restaurants known for their sushi, sashimi, served rare, seared, or cured, is delicious, but it’s not sushi. If you want to find a unique restaurant specializing in Japanese cuisine, find one that knows the difference between sashimi and sushi; of course, make sure they do both extremely well!
How to Get the Best Flavor out of Every Piece
Just like most foods, there are certain ways to eat sushi to really bring out its best flavor. Matching beverages and proper etiquette can go a long way in making sure you get the most out of every piece. As Sushi by Nature points out, certain types of Japanese sake, whether Futsu, Junmai, etc., will pair better with an eel roll, for example, than others. Likewise, sushi is developed for flavor harmony. For instance, Nigiri-zushi, meaning hand-pressed sushi, incorporates a pre-determined amount of wasabi to compliment the rice, fish, and other ingredients. If you cover your sushi in soy sauce, as Bon Appetit Magazine writes, then you will ruin the balance. It’s a unique restaurant, indeed, that will teach you the proper way to eat their food. If you find one, never let it go.
If you want to find the best sushi restaurant in your area, look for one that knows about these three essential sushi facts. Doing so, you can enjoy the best sushi, sashimi, and accents that go with them at reputable and unique restaurants offering time-honored Japanese cuisine. More on this.